AMR acknowledges issues, promises improvements

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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During the Troup County Board of Commissioners work session on Tuesday morning, representatives from American Medical Response (AMR) and Air Evac provided the county with an update on their efforts to merge operations and improve local emergency medical services.

Ricky Bias, who has headed up the local Air Evac Lifeteam for years, went over plans to combine ground and air emergency services from Air Evac and AMR under the Global Medical Response umbrella.

“We had a really good culture on the air side and wanted to bring that over, but there have been some challenges,” Bias said.

Bias acknowledged that they need to address problems from the top to bottom. After recognizing the issues, they developed 30, 60, and 90-day plans to address the problems.

One major issue of late has been ambulance availability and response times. Bias also noted that there have also been too many mutual aid incidents where other counties have had to pick up slack in Troup County.

Like seemingly all companies, AMR has had staffing issues, which has impacted ambulance availability. In order to address this, they are increasing compensation rates to provide market leading wages as well as providing in-house training so employees can “earn while they learn.”

In order to make sure ambulances are available for 911, AMR plans to keep a minimum of four available for emergency transports. That means they are forgoing non-emergency transports to and from the hospital when they don’t have enough ambulances available and allowing their competitors to serve those customers.

AMR also plans to utilize some 24-hour ambulances to make sure emergency services are always available. Bias advised the 24-hour units will be helpful to be staged in areas of the county with long response times, like Hogansville. Ultimately, AMR plans to have one of the 24-hour units in Hogansville full time

Bias also noted that even though staffing is currently difficult, shifts are being limited to 24 hours. A normal shift is 12 hours, but some EMTs had been working up to 48 hours straight, which isn’t safe for them or their patients. As for the 24-hour units, according to Bias, some employees prefer the long shifts, which is similar to what many firefighters do. Employees will be required to have a minimum of eight hours of downtime between 24-hour shifts.

Communication has also been an issue. AMR plans to have regular meetings with other emergency services. Bias said they are providing a daily roster of ambulances and crews available, AMR can better direct calls.

Weekly meetings are planned with 911 and WellStar, and monthly meetings are planned with each of the fire departments in order to better coordinate services and address ongoing issues.